Partners are often the key to a cloud provider’s success. There are many reasons for this, but the most significant is the fact that cloud providers may be selling infrastructure as a service, but they’re not SERVICE PROVIDERS in the true sense of the word.

Cloud vendors don’t come to an office and help enterprises implement their cloud initiatives. They don’t help enterprises draft cloud strategies and migration plans. And they only offer a select set of tools and applications with which to manage, automate and analyze a company’s cloud resources.

Enterprises need help in getting their cloud initiatives off the ground. They need service providers to help them execute their cloud strategies. And they need technology companies coding and creating new software solutions that increase the transparency, automation, security and manageability of their cloud platforms.

DivvyCloud, the creator and provider of advanced cloud automation and cloud management solutions, counts itself among the technology partners of multiple cloud providers. According to Jeremy Snyder, the VP Business Development at DivvyCloud:

“Cloud technologies are transformational, and IT teams have to wrap their heads around a new way to deliver cloud benefits to their organizations. It takes multiple vendors and solutions to make the move effective. Tech providers build the solutions that make cloud adoption work for compliance, regulated environments and industries with high security requirements. Some technology providers are instrumental in enabling customers to embrace the cloud by delivering the advanced capabilities that make it possible.”

And the cloud providers realize this. At least they’re starting to.

We’re beginning to see more cloud providers implementing comprehensive partner programs. These programs reward service providers and technology vendors that bring them customers and drive their revenue. They effectively deliver incentives to the companies that deliver them new accounts and facilitate increased cloud usage at existing ones. And for technology companies and service providers, these incentives can deliver increased revenues and new customers in themselves.

One of the most well-known partner programs is offered by the largest and most well-known cloud provider – Amazon Web Services (AWS). The AWS partner ecosystem, or APN (Amazon Partner Network) is gargantuan, which makes sense since the company currently boasts the largest market share of all cloud providers.en’t just enticing the large cloud providers. The necessity to have a well-established and run partner program is even driving smaller cloud providers to explore the creation and implementation of their own partner programs.

And the program is relatively straight-forward. All partners are divided into two camps – service providers and technology partners. There are multiple levels – or tiers – within each category, each of which requires meeting a certain set of milestones, and comes with varying levels of incentives and benefits.

“The AWS partner ecosystem is massive, but within the technology provider category it’s relatively streamlined,” said Jeremy. “There are three tiers for technology providers – registered, standard and advanced – that correspond with the level of integration that your solution has with AWS, and the amount of AWS revenue it influences. DivvyCloud was recently named an ‘Advanced Technology Partner,’ which represents the highest tier.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Although the milestones needed to qualify for the upper tiers may be difficult to attain, there are significant benefits that await the technology partners that reach them. Included in the benefits AWS provides for top tier partners are listings in AWS partner directories, access to marketing funds and opportunities, invitations to AWS Summits and events, and exposure to a huge list of AWS customers. Those benefits are combined with the validation that comes with being a top partner of the industry’s largest cloud provider.

But AWS is just one of many different cloud providers that have strong partner programs. The potential to drive additional revenue and deliver additional capabilities to end users has many cloud providers looking to ramp up, expand or implement programs to recognize and reward their service provider and technology partners. Unfortunately, they’re not all as successful as the AWS partner program.

One great example is Microsoft’s Azure partner program.

The overall benefits of the Azure partner program are similar to those offered by the AWS program, including co-marketing funds, events and other incentives. Unfortunately, the company has failed to make the user experience as simple and streamlined as their largest competitor in the cloud space.

“Azure is an incredible cloud and Microsoft is working tirelessly to grow its user base,” said Jeremy. “Unfortunately, the company added Azure’s partner program into the existing Microsoft Partner Network, which has historically been difficult for partners to navigate and prioritizes the use of multiple Microsoft products at the same level as driving cloud adoption.”

Incorporating Azure’s partner community into the existing Microsoft Partner Network may have been the simpler option – cheaper and easier than building out a new community – but the complexity and focus on selling other Microsoft products hurts the experience and opportunity available to technology partners. Many of the innovative, small start-ups that are creating the most exciting technologies for the cloud simply don’t care about whether their clients are implementing SharePoint; they only care about the cloud and Azure.

Then there’s Google. We’ve recently discussed Google’s movement toward building out their enterprise solutions. Recent hires and comments from Google’s leadership indicate that the company is interested in and focused on competing with AWS for the top spot in the enterprise cloud space.

Unfortunately, the partner program reflects the new focus on the enterprise cloud market. Despite being easy to navigate and apply for, the partner program ultimately feels like an afterthought for Google, with many technology partners feeling like less than a priority.

“The Google partner program application was very easy to apply for – the user experience was simple and straightforward, like we’ve come to expect from Google,” says Jeremy. “But it’s unclear what’s supposed to happen next…”

But the benefits of partner programs aren’t just enticing the large cloud providers. The necessity to have a well-established and run partner program is even driving smaller cloud providers to explore the creation and implementation of their own partner programs.

When asked for an example of smaller cloud providers that are doing it right, Jeremy reference DigitalOcean, which he claims, “Is much more hands-on and interactive with their technology and service provider partners.”

Regardless of the size of the cloud provider, it’s clear that partners are rapidly becoming the lynchpin for continued growth and success. Although AWS and its partner program currently hold the crown, other cloud providers are rushing to get into the game, and to start utilizing their partner ecosystems to drive revenue and win market share.

Although the company may still be figuring out an approach for its partner program and identifying which incentive and benefits it can offer, it’s working hard to lay the groundwork for an exciting program. The company is conducting due diligence with service providers and prospective technology partners to ensure that they’re a good fit and appears to be aiming for quality over quantity with their partners.

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